News story | Date: 11/10/2023 | Ministry of Health and Care Services
The Norwegian government is proposing a NOK 2.2 billion increase in funding for hospitals above and beyond wage and price inflation. The draft budget will facilitate shorter waiting times, strengthened mental health care and collaborative measures in the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority.
‘With this budget proposal, the government is seeking to reduce patient waiting times. Within this framework of NOK 2.2 billion, provisions have also been made for inpatient treatment within mental health care for children and young people, and those with serious mental disorders, to be bolstered by NOK 110 million,’ says Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services.
The pandemic and extraordinary cost increases have posed a challenge to the operation of hospitals in recent years. Although activity has picked up following the pandemic, it is still lower than it would otherwise be. Waiting times and the number of missed deadlines have increased throughout the pandemic and are higher than the last ‘normal’ year in 2019. With this draft budget, the government is seeking to reduce waiting times in 2024, and regional health authorities will be tasked with delivering this throughout next year.
Northern Norway Regional Health Authority is in a difficult situation
For a number of years, the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Nord) has had an excessively high level of costs, while also lacking skilled staff. The Minister of Health and Care Services has therefore given the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority a special assignment to look at its division of functions and tasks in order to be able to fulfil its responsibility to offer good and equal health services in the future.
‘The government is proposing several special grants to the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority worth a total of NOK 85 million. These funds will contribute to interaction and restructuring, and better services in more places,’ says Kjerkol.
These funds will be distributed as follows:
- NOK 40 million for interaction and restructuring grants to the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority.
- NOK 25 million to further development of specialist health services in Alta, with a particular focus on better services for the elderly and chronically ill.
- NOK 20 million to preparedness work at Kirkenes Hospital. In addition, NOK 15 million, allocated in the revised national budget for intensive care, has been continued.
Investment loans for hospital expansion
The government is proposing a grant of NOK 9.7 billion in investment loans in 2024. This is in line with the progress of ongoing major investment projects in hospitals.
This contains a proposal for a credit facility for two new hospital projects:
- Møre og Romsdal Hospital Trust’s Ålesund Hospital, with a credit facility of NOK 881 million
- Colocation of high security mental health care at Ila, Oslo University Hospital, with a credit facility of NOK 375 million
Facts about the government’s proposals for hospitals:
- The government proposes to increase allocations to hospitals by around NOK 2.2 billion from 2023 to 2024. This will allow for a growth of approximately 1.8% in patient treatment. Demographic changes alone, due to a rising and ageing population, are estimated to entail a need for activity growth of 1.5%.
- Regional health organisations will be tasked with reducing waiting times in 2024.
- Those with mental illnesses will get help. Of the NOK 2.2 billion proposal, NOK 110 million is to be allocated to inpatient mental health care for children and young people and those with serious mental disorders.
- A grant of NOK 85 million is proposed for Northern Norway Regional Health Authority. In 2024, funds will be used for the further development of specialist health services at Clinic Alta (NOK 25 million), emergency preparedness at Kirkenes Hospital (NOK 20 million) and NOK 40 million for collaborative measures.
- NOK 25 million is proposed for the new district medical centre in Kristiansund.
- NOK 9.7 billion is proposed for investment loans in 2024. This is in line with the progress of ongoing major investment projects in hospitals.
- Credit facilities are proposed for two new hospital projects: Ålesund Hospital, Møre og Romsdal Hospital Trust (NOK 881 million credit facility) and for the grouping of high security mental health care at Ila, Oslo University Hospital (NOK 375 million loan framework).